Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions                             

Who are we? What do we do?

Medical and Scientific Communication is a division of the NUHS Research Support Unit. It provides a range of services to help NUHS researchers to communicate their research more effectively through better medical/scientific writing, whether it is for peer-reviewed scholarly publications, conference presentations, competitive grant applications, or for regulatory submissions as required in clinical research.

Who are eligible to use your services?

We serve all NUHS staff who are actively involved in scientific research. However, due to limited service capacity, presently, only the preparation of the clinical research protocol/trial for publication and scientific manuscript editing service is open to all. The rest are open only to specific categories of staff, primarily investigators in the early stage of their career. Full information on staff eligibility for the various services is available here.

Do we have to pay for your services?

Presently, all services provided are free-of-charge to eligible NUHS staff, except for some workshops and Master classes delivered by invited industry experts (e.g., editors from renowned journals). For these, nominal fees (a fraction of our cost) are charged.

Do we have to acknowledge your assistance when we publish our research findings?

Yes. It is expected that authors give full disclosure for any assistance rendered in the course of their research (from research conception to completion, to publication). This is a requirement set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of professional editing services is encouraged by reputed journals and disclosure of having engaged such services does not make the manuscript less acceptable for publication or render the author less credible.

If I use your service, will my research idea, data and other information be kept confidential?

Yes. We understand and respect the confidentiality of your research ideas and unpublished findings. Every article you submit to Medical & Scientific Communication for pre-submission editing will be considered private and confidential. We adhere to a strict privacy policy that will not allow disclosure of your pre-published content to any third party without your explicit consent.

Questions on Medical Communication in Clinical Research

Who are eligible to use your clinical research/trial protocol development/writing service?

Newly independent clinical investigators or clinician innovators (e.g., clinician scientists/innovators or equivalent) within 3 years of first grant award)

When and how may I request assistance for development of a clinical research/trial protocol?

You may consult us after you have fully planned out your research project. Please consider providing all the necessary details in a package, not piece by piece. This is because the medical writer has a limited block of time allocated to complete each protocol. Please email us to arrange a consultation time.

What information do I need to provide prior to the consultation?

You will need to provide us information on the background and rationale of your research, your study design, objectives, and outcome measures, full research methodology, including sample size consideration and statistical analysis plan.

How long does it take to develop and write up a clinical research/trial protocol from scratch?

If there is no delay on your part to provide the required information, our medical writer can complete writing an average length protocol within 2-3 months. It might take longer if your study is unusually complex or if our writer must juggle multiple time-consuming assignments at the same time.

Do you help with preparation of the associated regulatory documents required for submission to HSA and NHG-DSRB?

Yes, we do it to complete the entire dossier required for initial IRB application.

Do you help with the submission of the dossier to HSA, and institutional IRB?

No, we do not support that. The principal investigator (PI) is responsible for the submissions.

Do you help with post-review revision of the protocol?

No, we do not support that. The PI is responsible for all post-review revisions, and all amendments he/she wants to make in the future.

Can I publish my clinical research/trial protocol?

Yes, you can, but only after IRB approval. You will have to transform it to an article format as per requirement of the target journal. We can assist you with that if the study involved is not initiated or sponsored by the industry.

Questions on Scientific Communication of Research Findings

What are writing clinics?

Writing clinics are one-to-one coaching sessions conducted to help early career investigators unfamiliar with formal scientific writing effectively disseminate their research findings for presentation at scientific conferences or for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

How do I book a clinic?

You may check out our quarterly schedule for writing clinics and email us your preferred time slot for the initial session. We will then advise you on the outcome of your booking and the venue for the writing clinic. Time slots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis

Are there information I need to provide you prior to the writing clinic session?

Yes. You will need to provide us information on the background, rationale and objectives of your research, along with analysed data, tables, graphs, and interpretation of your research findings

How much time am I given to write up a manuscript from my research data? Is there a deadline that I must complete writing the manuscript?

Following the initial coaching session, you may work at your own pace, with the option of coming back to us for more guidance when you need it. There is no deadline, but we recommend you do not take more than 3 months to complete the writing.

Questions on Scientific Editing

What do you do in scientific editing of documents?

In scientific editing, an editor with background in both scientific/medical research and scientific writing will examine and edit your manuscript from both the scientific and linguistic perspectives, modify or restructure the writing, if necessary, for clarity of presentation of your research, the outcomes and the interpretation, and to ensure the logical flow of content and consistency in your delivery of the messages.

What type of documents may I submit for your editing?

Your final draft (pre-submission version*) of the following documents: original research articles, technology development reports, evidence-based review articles, letters of intent or white papers written for pre-proposal evaluation of projects, and grant proposals prepared for full public funding.

*You are advised not to submit documents which are still in developmental stage.

How long will it take for my document to be edited?

Every document is unique. It depends on the nature and length of the document. As a guide, it might take the editor 36 – 48 hours to complete substantive editing of a 3000- to 5000-word scientific manuscript written by a novice in scientific writing.

How many rounds of editing will the editor perform?

Our editor will perform a maximum of two rounds of editing. Most of the manuscripts we get require only one round of editing. A second round of editing is called for only if there are extensive revisions for the authors to make, in which case the editor will edit the manuscript one more time after authors completed the revision. A typical manuscript pre-submission editing work flow is presented below:

Editing Workflow

Can I request for a fresh round of editing after revision post journal review?

Yes, you are welcome to get back to us if you require further editing of your manuscript.

Do you proof-read pre-publication galleys for authors?

No, we do not offer this service. This is the responsibility of the author.